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A SAD YEAR: 2005

By FREEDOM WRITER
ANCHORAGE, ALASKA
December 2005

As 2005 comes to a close, we can reflect upon some of the year's most disheartening events at the international, national, state, & local levels.

President Bush's "anti-terror war in Iraq" reached a disconcerting level of over 2,000 dead American soldiers with no real end in sight. Sure, the Iraqis have held two elections & elected their own national parliament & prime minister. Sure, there has been great progress in rebuilding the infrastructure inside that terror-stricken country after the demise of Saddam Hussein from power. Yet the concentration of terrorist activities against our soldiers & innocent civilians, reminiscent of the on-going Israeli-Palestinian strife, prevents an early withdrawal of American & coalition military forces. The Iraqis, tendering a fragile coalition of diverse cultural & ethnic groups, have never been a unified free people before, so they are still not ready to take complete responsibility & security for themselves & their "nation" yet. If those groups divest into a civil war, then the Iraqi "war for freedom", plotted under the neo-cons' push for "democracy around the world", could result into another Vietnam type quagmire & embarrassing withdrawal of American & coalition forces instead of a triumphant return to their respective homelands. We cannot give up hope for a successful outcome, but it's sad that it may take many more years than originally planned or anticipated.

Continued revelations of United Nations mismanagement & corruption under Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the UN, cast more doubt about the viability of that body. Cries of American withdrawal from the UN have never been stronger. Funds that were to be used to help the Iraqi people under Saddam Hussein years ago never got to those in need because of the contractual ties between the UN, France, & Russia, & the lack of oversight, both internally within the UN & externally on Saddam Hussein. It's no wonder that France & Russia did not support our Iraqi "war for freedom". Funds that were to be used to help the stricken Indonesian & southeast Asian peoples from the mega-disastrous December 2004 tsunami through the UN never got to those in need, either. The membership of the UN has grown to include so many anti-American nations that even the US was not permitted to be on a human rights committee but several nations with known track records of human rights abuses were allowed instead. Our government continues to fund the corruption-ridden international body more so than it needs to do, while that body continues its downward spiral of ineffectiveness at promoting peace & humanitarian efforts. Maybe we are lucky that the US still retains its seat on the UN Security Council, as a last resort, because that guarantees that the entire body, through a majority vote of the general membership, cannot take unified action against America if the "majority" decides to do so. It's sad that the US wastes too much money on this international organization.

The United States was stricken with unprecedented numerous hurricanes that demolished most of the coastal southern states north of the Gulf of Mexico. Billions of dollars in property damage & thousands of lives were lost. What really was surprising this time, besides the mega-intensities of some of the hurricanes like Katrina, was the revelation of the obvious lack of coordination among the newly created Department of Homeland Security that was the new boss of the old Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), FEMA itself, the State of Louisiana, & the city of New Orleans. This resulted in additional loss of property & lives that was telecasted daily throughout the country & around the world. The various governmental agencies could not get their "shit together", in so many words. Yet the Congress continued spending additional billions of dollars for relief without any oversight of the expenditures & the city of New Orleans is not yet rebuilt & there are still thousands of former residents of that bayou city living all around the country at government expense awaiting to either return home or to a new life somewhere else. It's sad that our supposedly conservative national government continues to throw money down the "rat-hole" of government programs & agencies that cannot perform their most basic functions in a timely & effective manner.

Let's not forget about an important US Supreme Court decision this year. The "Kelo" decision affirmed by an activist majority of the 9 black-robed judges allows governmental use of "eminent domain" for an unprecedented commercial use, instead of the normal "public use", even with the dissent of the original property owner. Please see these two internet references: ( link ) & ( link ) . This is CONTRARY to what the framers of our Constitution intended under Amendment 5 of our Bill or Rights when they specified "...nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation." ( link ). It's sad that Congress has still not acted to "overrule" the judicial verdict by legislative or constitutional amendment means yet.

Late March saw the death of Terri Schindler-Schiavo at the hands of her husband through his "pro-right-to-die" attorney, an "alleged" hospice, the state courts in Florida, & the federal courts including the US Supreme Court. Terri had been kept alive for years with a feeding tube after an alleged accident in her home which gave her some brain damage. Despite an outpouring of sentiment around the world to keep her alive, the American legal system was used to purposefully starve a person, resulting in death. The courts, normally used to "speak for those who cannot speak for themselves" were used instead to silence anything but her adulterous husband's wishes. Now that same "husband", living with & already having a new child with, a different lady during this ordeal, is going to publish a book about the event & make millions, he hopes. I hope not. There is a better book published on the subject: former LA PD investigator Mark Fuhrman's "Silent Witness: The Untold Story of Terri Schiavo's Death" . It's sad when the most powerful nation on earth, with a political party in control at both the federal & state levels, cannot help save an innocent handicapped woman who cannot speak for herself, against the death wishes of her adulterous spouse.

In Alaska, Republican Governor Frank Murkowski has ignored the wishes of the majority of Alaskans who want to see an all-Alaska natural gas pipeline & continues his "negotiations" with the current producers -- the multinational corporations who own the trans-Alaska oil pipeline (Exxon, BP, Conoco-Phillips), who want the route of the gas line to go through Canada instead, where one of the biggest producers (British Petroleum), already has interests. Exxon still has not settled the lawsuit claims against it by the State of Alaska & the fisherman of Prince William Sound & Valdez from the disastrous oil spill in 1989 yet our governor continues to negotiate with them without requiring, as part of any negotiations, that they, Exxon, finally settle up, or no new resource deal ( link ). Why would anyone want to do new business with someone who owes them money? Then there's the issue of national security: Transporting our resources through a foreign country (Canada). Canada does not always support America's foreign policy decisions, like the Iraqi "war for freedom", yet it does have a history of being a very close neighbor & ally. Whatever the problems are with constructing an all-Alaskan gas line, at least the governor should attempt to make that route work first, to insure more jobs are available in Alaska, not a foreign country; to insure that Alaskans get a bigger share of the resource development per Article 8 Section 2 of Alaska's constitution ( link ), not foreign-owned multinational corporations with interests elsewhere; to insure we Alaskans & Americans have control of the resource, not making the resource vulnerable to possible foreign blackmail or sabotage. It's sad that Alaska's natural gas has still not gotten to market & that current negotiations are not making that development any quicker.

Also in Alaska, the supposedly conservative Republican state government (Legislature & Governor's Office) has continued the trend of the national Republican Party leadership with its increased government spending and increased user fees for government services. It doesn't matter that most of the voters elected supposedly conservative representatives, senators, or a governor, as once the elected ones get settled in the capitol city of Juneau, they still appropriate & spend like liberal Democrats. The same thing holds true for the Anchorage Assembly. Newly elected conservative assemblymen are joined with moderates & liberals & the end result appears to be the same: A higher city budget than last year by more than $30 million dollars, more local government programs, & the threat of "eminent domain" against homeowners in order to construct a $30 million bike trail extension that only would benefit a few, while needed road improvements are left undone. It's sad that many of our local leaders also possess short term memories when it comes to implementing or not implementing their campaign promises once elected.

In Alaska's largest city, Anchorage, its liberal Democrat "Boy Mayor", Mark Begich, announced two sudden changes after the voters voted earlier in the year. Voters approved a controversial new convention center proposal that would supposedly not cost the taxpayers any money, would be paid by the new business generated after it's construction, & would have it's management put out to competitive bid. Instead there was an announcement that the original cost would now be higher & that certain features (like a new parking garage) could not be added at the original cost. Then there was the announcement that the existing management contractor of the existing Egan Convention Center & Sullivan Arena (SMG Marketing) would be given an initial "1 year plus" contract for the new convention center to assist in the consolidation of management functions for all three venues. SMG Marketing was a financial contributor to the "pro" or "yes" side of the ballot proposition. Mayor Begich denies any collusion. The voters, even many of the new convention center proponents, are disillusioned that the issue on which they thought they were voting yea or nay is now being changed after-the-fact, rather than holding to the original costs & requiring a competitive bid for it's management. It's sad when one mayor can single-handedly change the terms of an election proposition after the vote into something that would normally either require a whole new special election or would normally require the proposition's supporters to stick to the original details of the vote.

On a personal note, on July 26 my father died. At 87 he was a veteran of World War II & the Korean War. He was awarded many medals in both conflicts. His remains now lay in rest, along with my deceased mother's, at the Fort Richardson National Cemetary, where full military funeral service honors were also bestowed. I suspended continued publication of FreedomWriter.Com for the summer & fall in order to honor him & pursue the necessary details of probate & family matters. It's sad that our nation has lost another of its' "silent forgotten heroes" from the "greatest generation" of ordinary Americans who were asked to do extraordinary service & sacrifice, from surviving the Great Depression, to fighting for democratic ideals against fascism & totalitarianism, & to building post-war modern America.

In conclusion, the one thing that reminds me of the hope to surpass all of this sadness is a passage from the Holy Bible. In 2 Chronicles 7:14, it reads: "IF MY PEOPLE, who are called by MY NAME, will HUMBLE themselves and PRAY and SEEK MY FACE and TURN FROM THEIR WICKED WAYS, THEN WILL I HEAR from heaven and will FORGIVE their sin and will HEAL THEIR LAND." This is the hope & the promise to turn a sad 2005 into a glad 2006. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

-----Freedom Writer

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